In a genre where sequels, remakes and direct-to-DVD releases are all commonplace, you have to admire writer-director Don Mancini for keeping a grip on Child’s Play and the notorious doll Chucky since the late 1980s. Many ongoing franchises move on to different cast, different crew and become completely distinct from what they first start out as, yet Chucky has managed to retain his identity – alongside original performer Brad Dourif – to this day. With the seventh outing Cult of Chucky released this year, it’s quite a feat and the psychotic little doll has become quite the horror icon over the years, proudly sitting alongside Freddy, Jason, Michael et al. But the real question is whether this newest entry is any good? Well, the answer is surprisingly positive. If you love the previous films then you won’t feel let down by this.
Once again our original hero Andy (Alex Vincent) returns. Never being able to escape his memories of Chucky he holds on to the doll’s head in a desperate attempt to control him and to keep a grip on reality himself. Not everyone is managing to do that, however, as the tragic tale of Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif, returning from Curse of Chucky) unfolds, with her struggling in a mental institution paying for Chucky’s crimes. Not only is she being punished for them, but she now believes they were truly her fault. This doesn’t sit well with Andy, who tries to exonerate her by showing Chucky’s head, but this gets him nowhere.
The core of our story here is Nica and her struggles to deal with the past few years. Her therapy involves a Good Guy doll, introduced by Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault), which is just asking for trouble – and trouble is certainly what we get. With Chucky’s wife Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly) on the scene delivering another doll, she is once again the puppet master behind the scenes putting all the pieces in place for another Chucky bloodbath. This time round it’s Nica’s fellow patients – among them Angela (Marina Stephenson Kerr), Malcolm (Adam Hurtig), Claire (Grace Lynn Kung) and Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen) – who are all at risk.
It all gets quite difficult to explain once they’re dealing with multiple dolls and transferable souls and everything else, but all in all it makes for an entertaining and unpredictable horror. Mancini knows exactly what his audience wants and delivers it in spades. If you sit back and think about it for a second, then it’s almost crazy that these movies are still going and have been so successful. Truth be told, in a genre where copycat releases are all too prevalent it’s clear that no one has ever been able to replicate what Chucky offers. He’s a wisecracking, murderous son of a bitch, but we still find him hilarious in the sickest way.
Where Cult Of Chucky succeeds is in not taking itself too seriously. If you’re looking for real scares then this isn’t the movie for you. But if you like the occasional jump and some decent gore (in a fun way), then this movie will certainly whet your appetite. While it links to previous movies, it doesn’t to the point where it’s complete nonsense to anyone who’s never seen a Chucky movie before. Long-term fans will appreciate the nods and cameos but on the whole the story works well independently too – though really, why would you jump in at this entry and not at the beginning?
All in all it’s safe to say that Cult Of Chucky will exceed most people’s expectations, especially considering it’s the seventh entry in the franchise. It’s clear that Mancini has tried to take all the good elements from previous movies and mix them all together to deliver an enjoyable and ultimately rewarding experience for his loyal fan base – and if positive reviews can nab a few new fans too then even better. We may not need another Chucky movie, but after this one it would likely be welcomed with open arms by most. Cult of Chucky is definitely one to consider for your upcoming Halloween movie binge.
Cult of Chucky is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Dir: Don Mancini
Starring: Fiona Dourif, Michael Therriault, Adam Hurtig, Alex Vincent, Jennifer Tilly and Brad Dourif